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9 Signs Your Clothes Don’t Fit

January 20, 2019

Do you struggle with fit? I do. Just this past week I ordered a navy blazer online with high hopes. In fact, I ordered it in two sizes, just in case. When I put on the first one, I knew immediately it was too large. But the second one puzzled me. My body fit into the ponte knit blazer fine, but something just looked really off when I looked at myself in the mirror. I was baffled.

It turns out there’s more to fit than just getting your body into a piece of clothing. In fact, it’s been said that if you don’t have fit, you don’t have style. Good style hinges on good fit. So how do you know if your clothing fits?

9 Signs Your clothes don't Fit

Well today I am sharing 9 signs your clothes don’t fit. But I’ve got many more tips for making sure your clothing does fit. After all, like me, you can probably look in the mirror and tell when something is “just off,” even if you don’t know why. But it’s a little trickier ensuring that all of our clothing does fit properly.

So hang with me today. We’re going to learn how our clothing really should fit. But to get there, let’s discover 9 signs that indicate your clothes don’t fit.

Sign #1 – You’re overflowing your bra.

Clothes fit bra
Full Coverage Unlined Bra

We’re starting with this essential undergarment because we so often overlook it. But when you wear a bra that does fit, it can transform the look of your outer garments as well as your overall appearance. So how should your bra fit?

  • All breast tissue should be inside the cups. There should be no overflow.
  • The core, the place between the two cups, should sit flush against your breast bone.
  • You should be able to raise and lower your arms and the carriage of the bra should stay anchored in place.
  • Your bra should support and lift “the girls” to where they “should be.”
  • Approximately 80% of women are wearing the wrong size of bra. It’s best to get a professional fitting at least every two years.

Sign #2 – You keep having to pull your sweater down over your pants waist band.

Clothes fit sweater
Colorblock Turtleneck Sweater

A well fitting sweater looks smart. But if it’s too big you get lost in it. And if it’s too small you look a little clueless. Let’s learn how to look sharp in our sweaters.

  • The seam of the shoulders should rest on the edge of your shoulders, right where the shoulder bends.
  • The fabric of your sweater should drape your body, but not hug it tight.
  • Beware of extra fabric under the arm. When you lift your arms halfway up, you shouldn’t have bat wings between your arms and your body, unless the sweater is distinctively designed that way.
  • The hem of your sweater should cover the waist band of your pants/jeans/skirt at the minimum. It can be longer. When you raise your hands as high as your head, your hem should still conceal your midriff.

Sign #3 – Buttons are popping or pulling on your blouse.

Clothes fit blouse

Women’s 3/4 Sleeve No Iron Broadcloth Shirt

This is a common problem for women with a large bosom. But it can also be problematic for women with stout chests or wide shoulders. But there’s more to selecting a button up blouse that fits.

  • The seams of the shoulders should rest on the edge of the shoulders.
  • The shoulder seams should lie flat on the shoulders.
  • Buttons should not gape or pull.
  • The fabric should skim your body and taper in if the blouse is fitted.
  • The side seams should run perpendicular to the floor.
  • Make sure the blouse fits through the waist, too. It should not look snug at the tummy.
  • Shop for your largest area. So if your shoulders are wide, buy a blouse that fits your shoulders and you can have it taken in elsewhere. If your largest area is your tummy, choose a blouse that fits you well there. However, be aware that it is difficult for a seamstress or tailor to adjust the shoulders.
  • Long sleeves should end just at or below your wrist bone, but no lower than midway between your wrist and the base of your thumb.
  • Make sure sleeves are not so tight that you can’t move freely.

Sign #4 – Your t-shirt hugs your rear.

Clothes fit top
Essential Short Sleeve Tee

Unless you’re wearing a tunic with skinny jeans or leggings, you really probably don’t want your top to completely cover your rear. Why not? Isn’t that a good way to hide your wide hips or hefty rump? No, that’s actually a good way to draw attention to those problem areas while simultaneously throwing off your proportions.

Let’s look at how your top should fit.

  • The shoulder seams should lie flat on your shoulders.
  • The end seam of the shoulder should rest flat on the edge of your shoulder, not sitting too close to your neck or drooping over the edge of your arm, unless the top is decidedly styled otherwise.
  • Generally, we want the body of the shirt to skim the body, giving you breathing room but not large pockets of air.
  • Make sure the shirt also fits across the sweep of the garment at the middle of the hips.
  • It’s nice for the top to show the curves of your body without showing any indentations of your undergarments.
  • Make sure you have the appropriate undergarment to wear under tops that are sleeveless or have plunging or variable necklines, so that bra straps do not show.
  • Your full length top should either tuck into your pants and stay put or it should end somewhere between the bottom of your pants waist band and mid hip. If it falls too low it will accentuate your hips and rear or look slovenly. Also, when your top is too long it makes your legs look short and stumpy. If it hits too high it can make you look short waisted. Determine the length that looks best for your body proportions and buy accordingly.

Sign #5 – Your jeans are frowning or smiling at you.

Clothes fit jeans
Orbit Wash Denim Jeggings

If you look in the mirror and the front panel of your jeans are creased into a smile, they are too tight. But if that same panel is sagging into a frown they are decidedly too loose. So how should your jeans fit?

By the way, did you know that on average you have to try on 15 pairs of jeans before you can find one that fits correctly? Yep! It’s not just you!! We all have to try on a lot of jeans. So don’t give up!!

  • These days it’s wise to shop for jeans that are a little snug at first fit. Check the label. If the jeans contain Lycra or spandex they will generally stretch a little with wear. The more they contain of these or similar elements, the more they’ll stretch. To preserve these fragile, giving fabric contents, air dry your jeans rather than putting them in the dryer.
  • Shop for jeans by measurements, when possible, rather than size. Using a cloth or plastic tape measure, calculate the width around your true waist (where you naturally bend) and the widest part of your hips or rear. Don’t fudge on these measurements; shop to fit them.
  • The waist band of your jeans should fit snug but not tight. You should not have to wrestle into or struggle into your jeans. And you should not have to suck in your gut to fasten them.
  • Check the front pockets of your jeans. They should lie flat and not gape open or pull.
  • When you sit down, the back of your jeans should not gape open or fall so low as to expose…things. Ahem.
  • You want to be able to move about, bend over, reach and sit down comfortably in your jeans.
  • The rise (where the waist band hits your torso) should suit your comfort and your preference for your body proportions, but it should also stay in place as you move around. In other words, you shouldn’t need to be pulling your jeans up or down through the day.
  • The crotch of your jeans should come to the top of your thigh and just barely touch your body. It should be comfortable, not binding or sagging.
  • The length of your jeans will vary with the style. Ankle jeans should hit at mid ankle, preferably, but you have some wiggle room there. Cropped jeans look best when they hit just below the thickest part of your calf. And bootleg or trouser cut jeans should hit within 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the floor, no higher, with your shoes of choice on. Full length, straight leg jeans look best when they hit just at the top of your foot, resting on the top of your foot with one small break in the pant leg.
  • For more information about where your jeans should end and your shoes begin, you might want to read this previous post.

Sign #6 – Your dress pants are hugging your bum.

Clothes fit pants
Flare Let Suit Pants

Dress or suit pants are generally designed to hang from your hips, skimming your rear and hips. While recent styles are more body conforming, they still shouldn’t be tight.

  • Ideally, you should be able to fit two fingers into the waistband of your slacks. Your waistband should fit comfortably around your waist, snug enough to tuck your shirt in, but not tight.
  • You want to be able to move comfortably in your slacks with no wrinkling or puckering in the front panel. The front panel should not be pulling tight.
  • Your front pockets should lie flat when you are standing and walking. However, they will probably pucker out some when you sit. This is fine.
  • The rise should suit your comfort standards and your proportion preferences, but it should stay put.
  • The crotch should come to the top of the thigh, but it should not touch your body or pull.
  • You should be able to sit and still insert your thumb into your waistband.
  • Generally, you want your dress pants to skim the body and legs, not hug tight.

Sign #7 – You can’t pinch an inch of your skirt at the hips.

Clothes fit skirt
Plaid Pencil Skirt

While some skirts are designed to hug your body, you should still have enough give in the fabric so that it is not tight. After all, you want to be able to move gracefully in your skirt. (Remember Mrs. Wiggins on the Carol Burnett Show?!) Let’s learn some more pointers for choosing skirts that fit.

  • The waistband of your skirt should fit the same as the waistband of your dress pants, snug, but not tight. Make sure fasteners are not being pulled.
  • You should be able to pinch an inch of fabric at the hips of your skirt, ensuring that you have room or the flexibility in the fabric required for moving and sitting.
  • Check that pockets are not gaping.
  • The slit in the back of the skirt should hang closed when you are standing straight.
  • The side seams should run perpendicular to the floor, all the way down.
  • Side slits should hang closed, unless otherwise designed, and fall perpendicular to the floor.
  • The hemline should run parallel to the floor and even all the way around, unless otherwise designed.
  • Most women look good with a hem length right above the knee. But acceptable lengths are just above the knee, just below the knee and just below the widest part of the calf. Of course, if you can wear a mini skirt, you can wear a shorter length, but be sure you can move, bend and sit comfortably and without exposure.

Sign #8 – Your empire waistband is riding high.

Clothes fit dress
Harper Rose Velvet Bodice Empire Dress

If your dress has an empire waistband, it is meant to hit you comfortably below your bosom, and it should not ride up. But there’s more to choosing a dress that truly fits your body.

  • The shoulders are the hanger from which the dress hangs. If the shoulders don’t fit, the dress will not hang correctly, so start here. The seams on top of the shoulder should lie flat and the shoulder/arm seam should hit right at the edge of the shoulder.
  • Make sure the sweep, the area across the front of the hips, fits correctly for the style of dress. It certainly should not pucker if it’s suppose to be a close fit and it should not pull tight if the dress is meant to skim the body.
  • If the dress has a fitted waistband, it must fit you at your natural waist (where your body bends). The waistband should not pull or sag. It should fit just against the body, but not tight.
  • If you’re wearing a wrap dress, make sure you can bend, move and sit and that the dressed stays appropriately wrapped.
  • Generally, a dress of any type should gracefully skim your body. Even a body con dress should not be tight. Make sure you can move, bend and sit in the dress.
  • The hemline should run parallel to the floor and should be even all the way around (unless designed otherwise).
  • Wearing the proper undergarments, such as a shaper, can significantly alter the fit of your dress.
  • Make sure that all seams lie flat at the shoulders, arms, neck and chest.

Sign #9 – You can’t hug your hubby in your suit jacket.

Clothes fit jacket
Cotton Blazer

Many suit jackets are designed to be form fitting, but a jacket shouldn’t be confining. Because a beautifully fitted jacket can elevate an outfit, let’s check out how it should fit.

  • The seams on the shoulders should lie flat and run even and perpendicular to the floor. As with the dress, the shoulders are the hanger for the suit jacket. It is most important that the shoulders fit correctly and it’s very difficult for a tailor to alter shoulder fit, so choose wisely.
  • The shoulder/arm seam should hit right at the edge of the shoulder. Even if there is padding, the shoulder should not sit out beyond the top of the arm.
  • If the jacket is meant to be fitted, it should curve in and skim the waist, but not be tight across the back.
  • Make sure there is not excess fabric on a boxy cut jacket below the arms when you lift them. The jacket should have a roomy, boxy cut, but it should not be too large.
  • Unless they are already cuffed up to a 3/4 length, full length sleeves should hit just at the bend of the wrist, at the top of the hand. Or the sleeves can hit just at the wrist bones, leaving room for a blouse sleeve to peek out.
  • Make sure the hemline is straight and even all the way around the jacket.
  • The lapel on the jacket should lie flat and smooth.
  • The collar should fit close to the body, not gaping at the back of the neck.
  • If there is a button or two or three, it is really up to you whether you can button them or not. If you will be wearing the jacket buttoned (for instance, if you are an attorney appearing in court), you certainly want to be able to button the jacket without puckering. Otherwise, according to industry standards, you don’t have to be able to button it. (Personally, I prefer to be able to button it even if I never will. When I notice a jacket on someone that couldn’t possibly be buttoned, it bothers me. But that’s just a personal preference.)
  • You should be able to reach up and out to give a hug comfortably, without the jacket pulling tight across the shoulders or back.
  • The fabric should skim the body and the hemline should fall at a place that flatters your body proportions.

If you appreciate this information, you may also enjoy reading my 10 fitting room tips in this post. And be sure to pin this post to one of your Pinterest boards or share it on Facebook for future reference. Thank you so much for spending part of your day here.

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Blessed for My Day

Today may you be blessed with self-awareness that helps you evaluate how you are spending your time and the ability to choose wisely. It’s so easy to just set our activity on autopilot and lose track of whether we are using our time wisely or not. But at the end of the day we want to know that we walked well with the Lord, that we brought glory and honor to Him, that we served generously and selflessly. So today let’s ask God to show us when we are behaving selfishly, when we are indulging ourselves rather than serving Him and others and when we are resisting His leadership. Then let’s be humble enough to change our course. Today may we be a blessing to others.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. ~ Galatians 6:7-8

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21 thoughts on “9 Signs Your Clothes Don’t Fit

  1. All of your fitting tips are most excellent, save one to which I take exception. And you are so right, it’s critical to have good fit to have good style.

    Where I disagree is about the length of our shirts or our jackets. It depends on our body type. For instance, I am long of leg and rectangle or H shape in body. Shirts that fall below my fanny suit me very well, giving balance and length to my torso. In the case of rectangle bodies, longer shirts and jackets do not add width to our frames.

    The mirror and a kindly friend with a keen eye can help determine silhouette shapes that are flattering. All that said, Kay…keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Mary Lee. No, I completely agree with you. I wrote the post kind of hasty, but I tried to mention throughout that you definitely need to fit to your proportions as I mentioned in this post about body proportions. However, what I was really referring to in that one section was that your t-shirt should not hug your rear. If it does fall below your rear, as in a tunic top, it should hang loosely. Thanks so much for reading and commenting! 🙂

      1. Lol! Now that I’m in total agreement with! Body conscious bottom hugging anything hasn’t become my body since it lost consciousness about 30 yrs. ago. Loose is my favorite drape ;)!

        As I’ve said before, I enjoy your blog immensely, Kay.

  2. This is such a great and comprehensive post, Kay.
    Growing up with my mom who is a seamstress, I’ve heard much of this, but tend to forget it when I find a good deal.
    It’s funny because I’m working on a post about which alterations you can count on and are pretty easy.
    We are on the same wavelength because fit is SO important!!

    1. Yes! I love that. I found a lot of information about alterations. That should be a great post, Jodie. And you’re right. It’s so easy to think we can fudge on fit when we find a good deal. But bad fit is never a good deal!! 🙂

  3. This is a great post Kay. As a seamstress for many years I knew many of these. It seems some of these “rules” change for young people – me trying to get my grandson to lengthen the leg of his suit pants!! LOL I guess grandma is out of the “in look” of suit pants on young adult men:) I also agree with Mary Lee on the H shaped body and length of tops, widening hips is not an issue for me either. My used to be hourglass shape is now an H due to my widening waistline after 50 or so. Thanks so much for all the great information in this post!

  4. I am so glad you shared these tips! I will keep them in mind as I clean out my closet. It will be a big help to let go of some items. Thank you

  5. Extremely helpful, Kay! Thank you! It is SO easy to fall into the bad fit trap when clothes are on big markdown or if you are in a hurry because you “need” something. Better to follow your advice to build a wardrobe of well fitting clothes (at best prices you can find), so that you have good choices available for most occasions. Love your blog!

    1. Yes, I’ve been searching for and wanting a pretty navy blazer. But the one I just received was such a disappointment. I admit I was tempted to just keep it and make do. But I’m going to keep searching for one that fits!

  6. As an add-on to #4, I have hemmed almost all my tops to better fit my short-waisted, short-sleeved self. Having a shirt end at the right spot actually makes my legs look longer. Great post, Kay.

    1. Ha! Typo! That was supposed to say “short-waisted, short-legged self” . Lol I just love how these phone think they know better than us. ?

  7. Kay, this is so informative! Thank you. I think I knew most of this, but having it all spelled out, in one cohesive article, is very helpful. On the way to church Sunday, I was reading one of your posts that referred to Sam Edelman’s winter sale. I was able to snag a pair of leather knee hi boots for $67 delivered! I would have never known about the sale if you hadn’t posted. Thank you! I used your link to the pumps you were talking about. I hope you still get credit for my boots. ?

  8. Loved the addition of the spiritual aspect of living. We, as women, must always remember to look good, smell good and live as if God is watching — because He is! As a seamstress I too appreciate the tips on fit. One piece of advise from one of God’s not so perfect body girls — be careful of the length of tops, jackets and skirts; and always check that full length mirror before leaving the house! That includes bending over!!! Thanks for a great blog and have a wonderful day!

    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Sherry. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. ? When I didn’t have a full length mirror I used to go onto my back porch and look at my reflection in my sliding glass door. ? But it worked!!

  9. I feel and act younger than I am, but I shouldn’t be dressing like I did decades ago, right? You’ve covered everything in a concise, understandable way, and ended with the most important message! God bless you!

  10. What jeans and gym pants to buy that won’t show my crouch lm pear shaped and 70yr old
    Blessing to one and all